Social Inclusion in History

Who is involved?

History Social Inclusion Working Group
Group of students on an excursion
  • Eirini Cox
  • Professor Ann Curthoys
  • Professor Helen Dunstan
  • Dr. Miranda Johnson
  • Dr Julia Horne
  • Associate Professor Michael McDonnell
  • Associate Professor Mark McKenna
  • Louise Prowse
Collaborators from other Departments
  • Associate Professor Tim Allender (Education)
  • Associate Professor Jennifer Barrett (Museum Studies)
  • Dr Huw Griffiths (English)
  • Dr Kieryn McKay (English)

What have we done?

2010-2011: we began by considering the full range of opportunities we had for diversifying our student body in history. We consulted with colleagues across the history profession, including museums, the History Teachers' Association and the NSW History Council. We conducted focus groups with history teachers to find out what would work best. In the end, we trialled four student experience days on campus. These three days formed the backbone of our schools engagement program in subsequent years.

The on-campus program includes:

  • Year 7/8 Experience: Focused on the theme of "Medieval Sydney" with visits to and activities at the Nicholson Museum, Macleay Museum, Rare Books, Campus and Quadrangle Tours and more.
  • Year 9/10 Experience: Tutorial-style activities centred on Australian History, especially the Freedom Ride. Tours of campus and museums.
  • Year 11/12 Experience: experience a real lecture on a history topic, interactive sessions on studying at university, tours of campus.
  • Extension history/research essay mentoring: choosing and developing your history topic, using Fisher library, doing history research, writing history essays.

Each visit includes volunteers from undergraduate and postgraduate history programs who work with school students and are available to discuss the university and studying history.

2011-2012: we extended our campus experience program to working in schools on mentoring history essays and developed a partnership with Willyama High School in Broken Hill, beginning a rural engagement program. With the Education Faculty, we helped place history/education students in low-SES schools, providing pre-placement training. We also conducted some research with history teachers and pre-service history teachers on what works when teaching diverse students. We partnered with the English and Gender and Cultural Studies Departments to extend out schools engagement project into those disciplines.

2013: this year we are continuing (and refining) our campus visits, extending our projects into Sociology, working more closely with regional schools to develop useful units of study to engage students and expanding our Historical Investigation Project mentoring to additional schools. We have developed an extensive student volunteer program and we are also in the midst of creating a new service-learning unit of study for 2015 that will be based on our work with low-ses schools and communities. This year we will also commence a new WP project 'Building Sustainable Rural Engagement', working with school and community groups in Broken Hill, Dubbo and Gilgandra.

What have we learned?

  • To keep things straightforward: we have set tangible and achievable goals for school and community engagement and taken one step at a time
  • More about our discipline: we have seen the ways that History has privileged skills that are class-based attributes, causing us to reflect on curricula and pedagogy and work on new approaches
  • More about teaching: we have been inspired by teachers working with diverse students who find innovative ways of inspiring and engaging their students

Partner Schools

Students studying history.
  • Trinity Catholic College Auburn
  • Kogarah High School
  • Sir Joseph Banks High School
  • Granville Boys High School
  • Malek Fahd Islamic School
  • Miller Technology HS
  • Chifley College, Bidwell
  • Willyama High School

Where has our funding come from?

  • 2011: Strategic Development Funding, SOPHI
  • 2012: Widening Participation Grant, SIU. STEPS Grant, ITL and SOPHI and FASS
  • 2013: Widening Participation Grants, SIU, and SOPHI and FASS